The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

September 8, 2009
State workers visiting food banks; news from around nation

If you missed it, be sure to check out Bee colleague Anita Creamer's Labor Day report on the impact of furloughs on some state workers. A few excerpts:

In one state Department of Social Services office in Sacramento, managers have mobilized, setting up an informal food pantry to help employees having trouble making ends meet, according to a union official.
It's hitting Isabel Aviña, 58, an office tech for the Department of Consumer Affairs since 1988.

A single mother, she went on welfare briefly in the early 1980s - but as she plugged along through college and into the state work force, she was determined never again to ask for a handout. She bought a modest house in Sacramento's Valley Hi neighborhood, and she made sure she paid her bills on time.

Then came the furloughs. Aviña, as well, found herself in line at River City Food Bank late in August.

Renee Lee, 52, a Franchise Tax Board employee and a shop steward for SEIU, is raising her 5-year-old granddaughter. She hasn't yet hit the food banks, but she's considering it.

"I have to feed this girl," Lee said. "I'll feed her, and I won't eat."

Her south Sacramento house is in foreclosure because of her reduced paycheck, she said.

In this Labor Day column, The Bee's Dan Walters led with this observation:

This is not a celebratory Labor Day for California's workers, and that includes government employees who believed that labor contracts and civil service rules gave them bulletproof job protection.

In other news: The Wall Street Journal on Friday ran a furlough roundup story. And The Daily Inter Lake of Kalispell, Mont., notes that The Big Sky State is a bright spot in what can be a pretty gloomy national picture for state budgets.

You can read those pieces and others by clicking headlines in the "Recommended Links" section on the right side of this page.

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About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at


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